It wasn't easy, but the Michigan State Spartans took another step towards getting themselves off of the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament field.
Paced by 21 points and 14 rebounds from Draymond Green, the Spartans held off the feisty Hawkeyes by a final score of 66-61 in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament from Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Kalin Lucas chipped in with 11 points for the Spartans, and Keith Appling contributed 10 points to the victorious effort. For the Hawkeyes, Bryce Cartwright led the way with 14, and Matt Gatens wound up with 13. Those two players combined for 21 in the first half for Iowa, but could only put in a total of six points in the second half of play.
After Michigan State went into the locker room with a two-point lead, the two teams went back and forth with the lead to start the second half. With the game tied at 45, Iowa went on an 8-0 run to take a 53-45 lead with 11:40 left. The Spartans responded with a 10-2 run of their own, and the game was tied again at 55 with just over eight minutes remaining.
The lead continued to change hands, until Durrell Summers hit two free throws with just 15 seconds remaining to make the score 64-62. Gatens missed a go-ahead three-pointer, and forward Zach McCabe missed a tip-in that would have tied it. Summers then hit two more free throws to provide the final margin of victory.
Michigan State will advance to take on the Purdue Boilermakers tomorrow, while Iowa's season is more than likely over and done with.
Next up, we'll have the final match-up of the evening between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Indiana Hoosiers, which will air on the Big Ten Network. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 PM Central time.